William Charker – Chalker

William Charker /Chalker

(1774 – 1823)

William Charker was born at Winchester, Hampshire, England on 16th December, 1774. He was the fourteenth child of a family of a family of 15. His father was Edward Charker, a Tallow Chandler and his mother was Elizabeth (née Barr). The Charkers were relatively wealthy traders and yeoman farmers and thus William was well educated and financially independent yet on 7th December, 1800 he inexplicably became involved (with an accomplice) in a substantial burglary “at the dwelling house of Thomas Evance at St Mary Lambeth stealing goods to the value of ₤33.6.0.

The two were arrested and tried on 25th March, 1801 at the Surrey Assizes. Each was sentenced to only seven years even though their crime was a capital offence. At his trial, his name was given as William Charker, alias William Chalker. This is the first known use of the alias which was to become his usual name in Australia, except on Legal Documents and Government Correspondence where he always used Charker. They were held first at the County Gaol and then in a prison hulk at Deptford before being placed on board the Coromandel, which sailed from Spithead on 12th February, 1802 with 138 convicts and 35 free settlers. It arrived at Port Jackson on 13th June after a non-stop voyage of 121 days.

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Elizabeth Shackle – Sheckle

Elizabeth Shackle (Sheckle)
(1782- 1842)

Elizabeth Shackle was born in the village of North Perrott, Somerset, England in 1782. She was the eldest of eight known children of Joseph Shackle, an unemployed labourer, and his wife Elizabeth. In February 1800, the younger Elizabeth gave birth to a son Robert, father unknown, and soon after walked to the nearby Dorset town of Bridport where she obtained work as a twine spinner. It is not known what became of Robert but while at Bridport she gave birth to a second son, Daniel, on 9 th February, 1806. Continue reading

Mary Kearns

Mary Kearns
(1768 -1826)


Mary Kearns was 23 years old when arrested in Dublin and charged with theft.  She had been born in Dublin about 1868 and appears to have lived her life there.  Mary was charged with and found guilty of stealing a cloak.  She was sentenced to transportation for seven years.  For eleven months she was held in a gaol in Cork before boarding the Sugar Cane, along with 110 male convicts and 49 other female convicts.  The Sugar Cane sailed from Cork on April 13th, 1793 bound for Port Jackson via Rio de Janeiro.  It was an uneventful journey until some person revealed that a mutiny was planned and that some convicts had sawn through their irons.  The Surgeon found one convict out of his irons and had him taken to the yardarm and immediately executed.  The following morning several more convicts were punished and from that time on there was no trouble aboard the ship.  The Sugar Cane arrived in Port Jackson on Tuesday, September 17th, 1793 and the passage had taken 157 days, with only one death apart from the convict who had been hung. Continue reading

A Glimpse Into Maria Charker’s Life

Maria Charker

(November 20th, 1811 – October 22nd, 1884.)

Maria was the third child, and the first daughter, born to William Charker and his partner Elizabeth Shackle. Maria was born at Prospect Hill, N.S.W. on November 20th , 1811. At the time of her birth she had two older brothers, Edward aged 2 and William just 1, as well as a half brother Daniel, aged 5. Daniel came out to the Colony with his convict mother on the Speke. At the time of both Maria’s and her brother William’s births, the family were living on Prospect Farm where William Charker was employed as the overseer. The following year he received a grant of land at Bringelly, but did not actually take up residence until 1814. It is here that the family was registered at the 1814 Muster. Continue reading

Joseph Henry Chalker 1813 to 1893

Joseph Henry Chalker was the son of convict parents Elizabeth Shackle and William Chalker and was their fourth child.   He was named after Elizabeth’s father, Joseph Henry, and was born at Prospect on August 26th, 1813.   He and his older sister, Maria, were baptised together on Boxing Day 1813 at St John’s Church, Parramatta.   Joseph died at Caddigat, Adaminaby on June 21st, 1893 after spending much of his adult life in the Monaro district. Continue reading

Mary Ann Chalker


Mary Ann Chalker was born in interesting times, the seventh child of William Chalker/Charker and the eighth child of Elizabeth Shackell/Shackle, both of whom were transported to Australia as convicts. Their story is well known to Chalker/Charker family descendants.

Mary Ann was a Christmas baby, born December 25, 1818 at Cawdor, Mittagong NSW. At the time of her birth there were no Catholic priests yet in Australia so she remained unbaptised until she was almost three years old. Father John Therry and Father Phillip Conolly arrived in 1820 and by 1821 a temporary chapel had been erected on the site of St Mary’s Cathedral inSydney. It was to this chapel that William and Elizabeth brought their family, travelling for two days by horse and cart, for the christening of Mary Ann and newborn George. Father Therry officiated at the baptism that took place in August 1821. Continue reading